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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The 'Great Fear' at the Cape of Good Hope, 1851-1852
Author:Bradlow, Edna
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic terms:South Africa
The Cape
agricultural workers
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Ethnic and Race Relations
Abstract:Early in August 1851, a rumour began to circulate among the Dutch in the rural areas of the Western Cape (South Africa). The burden of the story was that the Khoi inhabitants of the mission stations were planning to lead a revolt of coloured farm labourers against their employers, in order to recover the land formerly owned by the Khoi. In this study the writer describes and analyses this 'Great Fear' (similar to the 'Grande peur' of 1789 in France), applying theoretical constructs concerning collective behaviour such as rumour and panic, to the political, social and psychological ambience and consequent pattern of events at the Cape during 1851 and 1852. She shows that an essential ingredient of the 1789 episode in French history, namely actual violence, did not materialize at the Cape. No 'repertoire of contention' was devised to resist a perceived threat to common interests. Although it has been suggested that violence was planned among rural labourers in the Western Cape in 1851-1852, there is no evidence for a definitive assertion. Notes, ref.